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Friday, December 18, 2009

Brief hopes dashed

I got my hopes up when I saw that the FCC had published an addendum to the Eligible Services Order released a couple of weeks back.

Maybe they heard the collective "HUH?!" issued when we all read the "unbundled warranty" rules in paragraph 28, and revised the guidance?

Nope, they're just renumbering some misnumbered paragraphs.

So we're almost a quarter of the way into the filing window, and I have yet to hear of anyone who understands what the rules are on hardware maintenance.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

E-rate by any other name

I just can't give up on capitalizing the "R" in "E-Rate." As faithful readers know, after chastizing others for their spelling of our beloved program, I recently noticed that my spelling is not the same as the FCC's.

So of course I'm thinking that the FCC is wrong, and I set out to prove it. So I thought I'd start with the Telecommunications Act, which created the E-Rate (OK, E-rate, whatever). Alas, "E-rate" does not appear in the law. So I went to the regs: again, bupkus.

Well, what about the founders of the E-Rate? Well, it was called the "Gore Tax," so I thought I'd see how the inventor of the Internet spelled it. Alas, I could not find any writings from Gore using the term "E-Rate."

The E-Rate was the result of the Rockefeller-Snowe-Exon-Kerrey Amendment, so let's see how those senators spell it. The first 10 documents that Google listed from Rockefeller's Web site with "E-Rate" in them included 7 using "E-Rate" and 3 using "E-rate." Damn, Senator, make up your mind. The "E-rate" documents were all 2001 or earlier, but there were some early "E-Rate" spellings, too.

On to Senator Snowe. Google found only 3 documents on her Web site (understandable that a Republican does not want to trumpet her involvement with this program). All "E-Rate." Way to go, Sen. Snowe!

Senator Exon? Never heard of him. (How much did the Exxon lobbyists have to pay him to change his last name? And why didn't they pay him a little more to add the second x?) I can't find anything written by him with "E-Rate" in it.

Senator Kerrey. I only found two documents. One used "E-rate," the other "e-rate." Booooo!

Well, at least I'm not the only one who's been spelling it "E-Rate," but I can't say that the will of Congress was to have that "R" capitalized.

Maybe if I file an appeal with the FCC, asking them to capitalize the R? They seem willing to grant just about any appeal these days. Nah, they'd probably just grant me a waiver with that "narrow focus" paragraph at the end, and USAC would interpret it to mean that any documents that capitalize the R should be denied.

Did I say that out loud?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Most wonderful time of the year

It's official: I have gone over the edge in E-Rate dark side. Once again, USAC has put a countdown to the close of the window on their main site. For a normal person in my position, that clock would be like the timer on the bomb in so many movies: a constant reminder of impending doom. When I look at it, I should be hearing tense violin music.

Me, though, I like it. When it first appeared, I found the inclusion of the seconds counting down to be very amusing. Kind of like a bomb in a Naked Gun movie, with over-the-top violins.

But this year, my reaction is even more troubling. I'm so used to seeing that clock appear in December that seeing it just now actually put me in a holiday mood. Instead of hearing ominous violins, I'm hearing Burl Ives.

I have definitely gone through the looking glass.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Window timeframes through history

Just out of curiosity, I updated a table that I had posted before, and thought I'd share it:

FYESL releaseWindow open60 days?Window closeWindow days

And they're off!

Probably anyone who reads this blog has enough E-Rate Geek Factor that this is old news, but the application filing window for 2010-2011 opened today at noon EST. Here's the official announcement.

The window closes February 11. USAC says that's 71 days, I say 70.5, but in any case, it's enough.

What is scandalous is this:
In the Third Report and Order, the FCC created a laudable rule of allowing at least 60 days between the release of the Eligible Services List (ESL) and the opening of the window. That makes a lot of sense: how can districts adjust their tech plans and craft a Form 470 without knowing what is eligible. Ever since then, the FCC has waived the rule, and given us less (much less) time.

But this year takes the cake. The FCC released the ESL last night, and the window opened today at noon. Instead of 60 days, we got about 18 hours.
Maybe this is the last year we'll be faced with this problem. Along with the ESL, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which would require USAC to submit the proposed ESL to the FCC three months earlier each year, with the goal of moving the release of the ESL back to September, where it's supposed to be. I'm all for that.